UB student obtains funding for electric rental car company
The Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has successfully assisted Drive Green Rentals in receiving two offers for access to capital from local banks, in addition to grant and equity funding, for a total capital structure of $200,000.
The electric car rental company joined the SBDC intending to access government grants provided by the center. With assistance from the SBDC, Benjamin Davis, chief executive officer and founder of Drive Green Rentals, was able to receive grant funding, equity and loan capital opportunities from two significant financial institutions for his start-up business.
The soon-to-be graduate of the University of The Bahamas described the accomplishment as exciting and a proud moment.
“It’s definitely a proud moment and I am very excited. The dreams that I have inside of my head, I will love to see them come to fruition with now having access to the funding,” said the entrepreneur. “We can now expand to where we need to be with sorting out charging stations, getting additional cars, an office space and more. That’s the most exciting part of it, being able to turn these dreams into reality.”
Davis said that he would encourage any entrepreneur to join the SBDC, as it is not just about getting funding but not having to take the journey alone.
“I would tell any entrepreneur to join the SBDC. Rome was not built in a day, that may sound cliché, but it’s true,” said Davis. “You have to have patience and understand that you’re not going to join on Monday and seven days [later] you have money in your hand. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from the SBDC is the strength and the value of having a team. You are now able to work with other persons who are like-minded, able to get other opinions and even being exposed to other entrepreneurs through the program. They are now persons I call family. So, just being able to have that connection and that networking is extremely beneficial.”
Davis was able to fulfil the next steps in manifesting his dream through the business advisory and advocacy services provided by the Access Accelerator. The day-to-day advisory interactions and the SBDC’s partnerships with financial institutions made his negotiations with the banks successful.
Phyllice Bethel, SBDC advisor to Drive Green Bahamas, said seeing her advisee succeed is rewarding.
“As an advisor, I feel encouraged because it is not an easy process for a client to go through. It’s a process where their ideas are scrutinized, not just by me but by other advisors,” said Bethel. “To see them having to tweak, re-tweak and tweak their ideas some more, then be rewarded at the end with first, the endorsement of the SBDC, and ultimately the reward of funding, makes me feel good. I can now use Drive Green Rentals as an example to other clients to show that, today you may feel like it is a lot of work, but in the end, this will be worth it.”
The SBDC is the product of a tripartite arrangement involving the government through the Ministry of Finance, the University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC). Davis began his business plan in his Entrepreneurship 407 class at UB. When the Ministry of Finance made the SBDC a reality, he was in prime form to take advantage of the opportunity.
Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, called the attainment evidence that Bahamians can take control and blaze their own trail.
“When you see a gem come along that is interested in self-development and creating opportunities, it makes us all, as leaders, very proud,” said Turnquest. “It says that all is not lost, that we as Bahamians have the opportunity to create our opportunities, to cut a new path and take more control of our economic circumstances.”
The minister of finance also expressed his desire to see the electric cars utilized as a prime means of rental transportation in the country.
“This is what it is all about,” said Turnquest. “I want to see him at every airport throughout this country and electric cars being the predominant rental vehicles in this country. When we first started the SBDC, one of the things I said I wanted to do was to create millionaires, and Davis is well on the way.”
SBDC Executive Director Davinia Blair, who expressed pride in Drive Green Rentals’ success, said the accomplishment reflects the hard work of the staff of the SBDC.
“This achievement is a testament to the hard work invested by both members and clients of the SBDC,” said Blair. “The best news is that this is just the beginning. We have businesses that have already been approved for equity investments of $130,000 and grant funding of $46,800. Several other clients are on the path to officially receiving loans. Successes like Benjamin’s further motivate us to continue to do our part in growing, strengthening and enhancing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.”